June 18 2013 Latest news:
By Kate Dodd
Thursday, December 13, 2012
CASH-strapped Suffolk police are set to sell a piece of land they bought six years ago but did nothing with – at a loss of nearly £400,000 to the taxpayer.
The land in Ransomes Business Park, Ipswich, was purchased in 2006 for £1,966,500 as the intended location for the new Police Investigation Centre.
But it was later decided that the site of the current Police Headquarters in Martlesham was better suited for the investigation centre.
Today the East Anglian Daily Times can reveal an offer has now been accepted for the land from Suffolk County Council for £1.6million.
The council intends to use the land as a waste transfer facility.
This loss of £366,500 will have to be written off against attempts by Suffolk police to make more than £7million in savings this year.
The force needs to make cuts amounting to £17.7million as part of a four-year plan.
Matt Gould, chairman of the Suffolk Police Federation, said in light of the current financial situation, nearly £400,000 was a lot of money to lose.
“Any money that we lose at the moment is not a good thing for Suffolk.
“We are having to be careful in so many ways across the force, that £400,000 is a considerable amount of money,” he added. “We are looking to make 20% savings.”
Assistant Chief Officer Phillip Clayton from Suffolk Constabulary said alternative purposes for the land were discussed, but the decision was made to put it on the market in April 2011 for £1.7m.
An “unacceptable low” offer was made from a local businessman before the council’s offer was accepted.
The officer added: “Prior to the land being bought at Ransomes Business Park the location at Martlesham Police Headquarters where the Police Investigation Centre has since been built was originally the preferred site.
“However, at the time the land available to build it on was the subject to a covenant, which precluded any development, and additionally the proposed design of the investigation centre was not suitable for the amount of land available.
The Police Investigation Centre was one of six, which were being built across Norfolk and Suffolk, which had to be built at the same time, in order to reduce costs.
As a result of this an alternative location was sought at Ransomes Business Park where land was bought for £1,966,500.
Due to some delay in the overall project the police headquarters site was looked at again and extensive additional work was undertaken to redesign a facility in a fashion, which would enable the building to fit on the site. A successful design was arrived at an application was made to have the covenant lifted, and in addition planning permission had to be obtained from Suffolk Coastal District Council which required full public engagement.”